Sequencing Activities: A Guide to Achieving Your Project Goals

how to prioritize tasks

What is a Sequential Task?

As the name suggests sequential tasks are those that need to be completed or started in a specific order. We subconsciously create sequential tasking in our day-to-day activities from planning our weekly grocery shopping to cleaning our house, the list is endless. 

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Project Sequencing

As a project manager sequencing tasks requires creating a specific format for your team members to start and finish the tasks promptly. As you execute the steps, sequencing tasks will enhance productivity, and coordinate in completing the project to produce the final product. 

Project sequencing requires employees to complete the tasks in a clearly defined chronological order that enables a quality outcome. 

Before you create sequential tasks for your project ask the following questions:

  • Who is responsible for completing this task?
  • What is the duration for completing this task?
  • Where does the task take place?
  • How is it performed?
  • What method of execution is used for this task and why is it the best one for this task?

Answering these questions will let you know how to create a balanced workflow for managing the sequential tasks which can be achieved with the help of critical analysis and a business process management system like Cflow which is specifically designed for achieving this.

Benefits of Sequential Tasks

There are several benefits of sequencing project tasks:

  • Creating sequential tasks helps maintain order in your project and that activities are completed promptly without any delay and that there are no missed deadlines.
  • You can increase the quality of your deliverables and you will have confidence as each task is completed promptly as planned. You will achieve efficient results which increase customer satisfaction and continue building your business. 
  • You can optimize resources when you have a clear visualization of the order of the tasks. Resources can be distributed optimally among different teams in a project to complete their job effectively.
  • You can identify potential problems and bottlenecks earlier on when you plan ahead and can come up with a contingency plan too in case of unexpected failure. 
  • The result of sequencing activities is a long-term commitment to improve your business quality, meet customer expectations, and maintain order. 

How to Sequence Activities in a Project?

Sequencing activities requires planning and strategizing. You can do it effectively by following these three steps: 

Identifying the tasks

This is the very first step in sequencing where you will identify the project tasks. This can be done using different methods such as brainstorming, interviewing, reviewing documentation, or using a work breakdown structure (WBS). 

A WBS is a systematic approach that can be used to break a project into tangible work packages and deliverables. These work packages can then be further broken down into smaller tasks and activities that can be easily managed and controlled. 

Having WBS helps maintain order and define the scope of the project. However, WBS is dynamic, meaning it evolves with the project’s needs. Therefore you need to set up feedback loops to refine the task lists. WBS helps in setting the foundation for sequencing activities in your project. 

Deciding the dependencies

This is the second step in sequencing activities. You need to determine the dependencies of the project tasks beforehand to avoid unnecessary discrepancies. Dependencies are the relationships between different tasks in a project that affect its sequencing and timing. Dependencies are of four different types – external, internal, mandatory, and discretionary. 

External dependencies are those outside the control of the project such as supplier deliveries, government approvals, customer requirements, etc. Internal dependencies, such as technical requirements, member availability, resource allocation, etc., are controlled by the project team. Mandatory discrepancies include regulations, contracts, and other best practices used in the project. Discretionary dependencies include preferences and resource availability for the project. You can manage each dependency using a network diagram or a matrix to visualize them. 

Managing dependencies is strictly associated with risk management. They need to be analyzed thoroughly and assigned to the responsible teams. The dependencies that lie in the critical path will require more attention to avoid failures. The dependencies should be monitored and controlled by relevant stakeholders and ensure that they comply with the project milestones. 

Using sequencing methods

This is the final step and it depends on logic. Here you will be using sequencing methods to arrange the project tasks in a logical order. There are two commonly used sequencing techniques: the precedence diagramming method (PDM) and the arrow diagramming method (ADM). 

In the PDM method, the project tasks are represented as nodes and dependencies as arrows. It has four types of dependencies:

(i) FS – finish-to-start

(ii) SS – start-to-start

(iii) FF – finish-to-finish

(iv) SF – start-to-finish.

On the other hand, in the ADM method, the project tasks are represented using arrows and dependencies using nodes which allows it to have only one type of dependency: FS – finish-to-start

In the task sequencing process, the FS exists only when the activity must be completed before starting another one. This is the most commonly used dependency. The SS exists when one activity cannot be started without starting another activity and this is the second most used dependency. The FF is similar to SS where one activity cannot be finished until another one is completed. Finally, the SF is a rarely used dependency that exists when one activity has to start before another activity can be finished. 

Both the ADM and PDM methods help to create network diagrams effortlessly to help you sequence the tasks and visualize the interrelationships between them. In addition to these methods, you can also use:

  • Gantt charts – you can make Gantt charts to display your project tasks, durations, and dependencies in the form of a timeline. 
  • Dependency analysis – identify relationships between different project tasks and establish order based on the dependencies. 
  • Critical path analysis – this helps you to understand the critical points in a project and formulate task scheduling depending on the critical tasks. 
  • Network diagrams – as mentioned above network diagrams can be made for easier visualization of project tasks and their sequencing. 
  • Resource constraints – while analyzing you should consider the constraints regarding the availability and distribution of resources. 
  • Milestones – you can set milestones as project points which will be awarded upon completion of each milestone and this is an easier way to track progress.
  • Project management software – you can use a project management tool like Cflow, ProcessMaker, Virtus Flow, etc which comes with automation functionality to manage and sequence tasks.  

By following these steps you will be able to sequence activities in your project efficiently. You will have more control over how each task performs and achieves milestones effectively.

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How Cflow Helps with Your Sequencing

In order to ensure the highest level of project sequencing, we highly recommend using Cflow which is a business process management software. It is a no-code automation tool that is completely cloud-based and comes with tons of features to simplify your work. 

With Cflow you can create customizable forms and charts where you can take full advantage of its robust project sequencing capabilities. It comes with predefined templates that let you upload your data and within minutes you can schedule tasks in appropriate order with timelines.

In addition, you can automate the tasks and reminders where the responsible people in the project would be notified of their tasks. You can change the sequencing in a simple drag and drop and the progress of each and every activity can be viewed from the designer dashboard. This lets you eliminate delays, identify lags, and complete the deliverables on time. 

You can take control of your project, link dependencies, sequence activities, report, and track progress in just a few clicks. See how we can help your team by checking out Cflow for more information and signing up for a free demo today!

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